A Nigerian military spokesman says security forces are conducting house to house searches for illegal weapons in the northeastern city Maiduguri in an effort to stop attacks by Islamist militants.

Colonel Hassan Mohammed of the Joint Military Task Force says the sweeps are aimed at stopping frequent attacks by the militant group Boko Haram.

Security forces launched the searches after an amnesty for turning weapons and explosives expired.  

Mohammed says several people have been arrested and weapons have been seized.

Boko Haram has been linked to several attacks in Nigeria, including an August suicide car bombing on a United Nations building that killed 23 people in Abuja, the capital.   The group wants a strict form of Islamic law applied more widely across Africa's most populous nation.